Monday 25 September 2017

Leinster finish with a flourish to foil Edinburgh

Edinburgh 23-36 Leinster

Jimmy Gopperth following his final game for Leinster in Murrayfield yesterday
Jimmy Gopperth following his final game for Leinster in Murrayfield yesterday

Alan Lorimer

It may have been a dead rubber for Leinster but the former European champions signed off their Guinness Pro12 campaign with a five try performance that was all about pride and passion. It was a performance too that denied Edinburgh any chance of claiming a place in next season's European Cup.

There was a bit of joie de vivre about Leinster's opening play as the visitors moved the ball wide with comparative ease, keeping possession for a whole three minutes before finally being forced into touch.

Then it was Edinburgh's turn to do likewise, their riposte originating from a blindside break by Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and a crowd-pleasing run from the soon-to-be Harlequins wing Tim Visser. Edinburgh then moved the ball through the phases before winning a penalty, turned into points by the boot of Hidalgo-Clyne.

Leinster made a muscular and rapid reply, driving a line-out before releasing the ball to Ian Madigan, who popped over a drop goal to level the scores.

The game needed a first try and Leinster duly obliged with a spectacular score by inside-centre Noel Reid, taking a reverse pass from Sean O'Brien before cantering 40 metres over unguarded territory to touch down under the posts leaving Madigan with a simple conversion kick .

Edinburgh threatened with a chip and chase by Visser only for the winger's kick to roll into touch at the corner, and with a dash to the line by Doug Fife. But if twice thwarted Edinburgh made up for lost chances with a try by Hamish Watson, who picked his way through the Leinster defence for an impressive touchdown, Hidalgo-Clyne's conversion levelling the scores.

The try-fest continued at the other end with a move sparked by an inside pass by Madigan to Dave Kearney, who then sent replacement back-row Jack Conan in under the posts, Madigan's conversion putting Leinster 17-10 ahead at the break.

Edinburgh's tempo at the beginning of the second half suggested a realisation that the home side could claw back points. And they did in the shape of a penalty goal from Hidalgo-Clyne. But the fightback was quickly tamed as Leinster flooded the red zone and when the visitors switched the attack to the right Madigan's long pass found Zane Kirchner for the wing to score in the corner.

The game then tilted once more as Visser squeezed over in the corner, Hidalgo-Clyne's conversion and a penalty by the scrumhalf giving Edinburgh a one-point lead, only for Luke McGrath and Jordi Murphy seal victory for Leinster.

Scorers - Edinburgh: Watson, Visser try each; Hidalgo-Clyne 3 pens, 2 cons. Leinster: Reid, Conan, Kirchner, L McGrath, Murphy try each; Madigan 4 cons, drop-goal.

Edinburgh: J Cuthbert; D Fife, S Beard (T Brown 59), A Strauss, T Visser; T Heathcote, S Hidalgo-Clyne (N Fowles 78); A Dickinson (R Sutherland 76) , R Ford (N Cochrane 63), J Andress (S Berghan 39), A Bresler (O Atkins 57), B Toolis, F McKenzie, H Watson, C Du Preez

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, C O'Shea, N Reid (J Gopperth 73), D Kearney; I Madigan, I Boss (L McGrath 66); J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross (T Furlong 71), D Toner, M McCarthy (T Denton 3 (J Conan 5)), J Murphy, S O'Brien, J Heaslip

Referee: N Owens (WRU)

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